Do People Report Happiness Accurately?

65 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2024

See all articles by James Andreoni

James Andreoni

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

B. Douglas Bernheim

Stanford University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Tingyan Jia

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2024

Abstract

Validation of happiness measures is inherently challenging because subjective sensations are unobserved. We introduce a novel validation method: subjects report how happy they would feel (or did feel) after some specified event, as well as how they would respond (or would have responded) to a survey question about their happiness after the same event. The difference between these two responses measures “self-reported misreporting.” We demonstrate that self-reported misreporting varies across events and is substantial for certain types of events. These findings imply that caution is warranted when interpreting differences in self-reported well-being across contexts.

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Suggested Citation

Andreoni, James and Bernheim, B. Douglas and Jia, Tingyan, Do People Report Happiness Accurately? (March 2024). NBER Working Paper No. w32208, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4754752

James Andreoni (Contact Author)

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B. Douglas Bernheim

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Tingyan Jia

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

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